ePetition - Stop Woodingdean Primary School from having its pupil numbers reduced

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Stop Woodingdean Primary School from having its pupil numbers reduced

We the undersigned petition Brighton & Hove Council to reject the proposal to reduce the number of pupils joining Woodingdean Primary School each year from 60 to 45, with effect from 2023.

Woodingdean Primary School is a thriving, popular, oversubscribed, two-form entry school situated to the east of the city in Woodingdean. The school has been at the heart of the village in its current building since 1948. We are proud to boast that multi-generations of families have enjoyed their school years with us.

We are a good school (according to Ofsted), but our community know that we are a fantastic school, committed to nurturing and developing all our pupils in partnership with our local community. Due to our robust financial management, our strong and positive budget will enable us to make our plans a reality over the next year: a new science lab, new library, Forest School, and many other exciting initiatives.

To reduce our pupil numbers would have a considerable impact on our school and our local community. We, therefore, oppose the proposed reduction for the following reasons:

Parents have the right to choose
Woodingdean Primary is a very popular, inclusive school. For September 2021, we were oversubscribed with 69 first choices for our 60 places. Reducing our pupil numbers from 60 to 45 would impact parental preference when the Council has an overriding responsibility to seek to increase opportunities for parental choice, not reduce them. Local parents wishing to send their children to their local school would be less likely to get a place.

Our location in the east of the city means our families do not have the same number of school choices available as in many other parts of the city. Any school outside of Woodingdean village would mean families travelling by bus or car, therefore going against the Council's stated aim to become carbon neutral. It also goes against the messages we share with the children, encouraging them to look after the environment by walking or scootering and will hit hardest, those who can least afford it.

Mixed-age classes
Reducing our numbers by half a class from 60 to 45 would not mean smaller classes but would result in a different structure to the classes. This is called mixed-age teaching, where children of different ages are taught together. There are currently no other schools in Brighton and Hove with this structure, and the local authority has told us this is a trial to see what parents and the local community think. Research into mixed-age teaching provided by the Council says that 'parent views tend to be negative as do teachers' and 'mixed-age students in one study were found to have more negative views of their own behaviour and believe themselves to be less popular'.

We are naturally very concerned about the impact on our children and the wider school community if we are to trial something this new and unknown.

Covid has put enormous demands on schools as they try to support children to make up for all the time lost over the last 18 months. The proposed change would mean our whole curriculum would need redesigning and staff restructuring, and retraining. Most importantly, our staff are not experienced with this approach to teaching and would not choose to teach in this environment. We could lose our fantastic staff team. Our school would be at a disadvantage when recruiting new staff, compared to other Brighton and Hove schools who are not being forced down the mixed-age route. Our children deserve the excellent teachers and support staff they currently have. We do not want them to be part of a costly and potentially damaging experiment that would be equally costly and problematic to reverse.

It is proposed that both Woodingdean schools should face mixed-age classes, which further reduces the choice for our local parents who may prefer a two-form entry school and one without mixed-age classes.

Why Woodingdean Primary School?
The Council's proposal states that it will focus pupil number reductions on schools that get fewer applications than their published admission numbers. This is the case with other schools whose pupil numbers will be reduced in 2021, 2022 and 2023… except for Woodingdean Primary.

We are an oversubscribed school, and the Council's own proposal states, "It is therefore not a realistic strategy for the Council to look to the larger popular schools, which are oversubscribed or admit enough pupils to be close to their PAN as a way of reducing the number of surplus primary school places." Therefore, the inclusion of Woodingdean Primary School goes against the Council's own proposal, and we believe we are being unfairly targeted for a reduction when other, undersubscribed central schools are not being included.

To summarise, we are against the reduction in pupil numbers from 60 to 45 and urge the Council to reverse its proposal and leave Woodingdean Primary School as the thriving, vibrant two-form entry school it is today.

This ePetition runs from 18/11/2021 to 02/01/2022.

709 people have signed this ePetition.


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